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Dodge NHRA Finals Sunday Preview: Champions will be crowned today

The 2020 NHRA schedule wasn’t originally drawn up this way but the four Camping World Drag Racing Series professional champions will officially be crowned on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Steve Torrence, Matt Hagan, Erica Enders, and Matt Smith enter the final day of the season as the leaders in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle, respectively but their clinch scenarios are varied.
01 Nov 2020
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage
Don Schumacher Racing

The 2020 NHRA schedule wasn’t originally drawn up this way but the four Camping World Drag Racing Series professional champions will officially be crowned on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Steve Torrence, Matt Hagan, Erica Enders, and Matt Smith enter the final day of the season as the leaders in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle, respectively but their clinch scenarios are varied.

Torrence, battling to win his third-straight title, must win one round to make that a reality. The Capco driver is paired with fellow Texan Kebin Kinsley in the first round of eliminations. Torrence has failed to advance past the first round just once this season but if that should happen, rival Doug Kalitta will need to win the race in order to claim the title. Kalitta, the No. 3 seed, faces a tough opponent of his one when he races newly crowned NHRA rookie of the year Justin Ashley in the first round

Torrence’s father, Billy, is the low qualifier for the first time in his career after driving his Capco dragster to a 3.728 on Saturday night. Billy will face Cameron Ferre in round one and with only 14 cars making official qualifying runs, the winner of that battle will get a bye run in to the semifinals.

The battle in Funny Car is wide open with leader Hagan starting from the No. 2 spot while Tommy Johnson Jr. is fourth and Jack Beckman is No. 10. Hagan enjoys a two round lead over both of his teammates and is slated to face two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon in the opening round. Hagan, chasing his third championship, also faces a potential battle against Beckman in the quarterfinals assuming Beckman can get past No. 7 qualifier Paul Lee.

Johnson, the winner of last week’s Houston race, needs to turn on two more win lights than Hagan and will start his quest for a first championship with a race against Jim Campbell. Johnson ran a 3.915 in his MD Anderson Cancer Center Dodge, less than two hundredths behind his teammate Ron Capps, who claimed the pole after running a 3.902 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge.

There are still three drivers in contention for the Pro Stock title, Enders, Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin Jr. Enders leads Line by 47 points and is 55 points in front of Coughlin. Both Line and Coughlin, who are both retiring from the Pro Stock class after this event, need to win two more rounds than Enders in order to pass her. Enders struggled in qualifying with a 6.652 best and landed in the No. 12 spot, her lowest starting spot of the season. Line is second with a 6.635 while Coughlin is ninth quickest at 6.647. The ladder has Enders paired with her Elite teammate, Alex Laughlin while Line will battle Cristian Cuadra and Coughlin has a tough draw against last week’s Houston winner Aaron Stanfield.

Sitting atop the field for the 106th time in his career is Greg Anderson, who wheeled his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro to a 6.601. Anderson races Aaron Strong in round one and could potentially race Coughlin in the quarterfinals.

There are four riders in the running for the Pro Stock Motorcycle title including incoming leader Matt Smith, Eddie Krawiec, U.S. Nationals champ Scotty Pollacheck, and reigning champ Andrew Hines. Smith’s lead over Krawiec and Pollacheck amounts to three rounds so he can clinch his fourth title by reaching the semifinals. Smith qualified second but faces a tough draw in Angelle Sampey, who is positioned to possibly help her Harley-Davidson teammates.

Krawiec rode to a 6.801 to take the top spot and he’s got Cory Reed in round one and Pollacheck starts from the No. 4 spot and races David Barron. Kraweic and Pollacheck could potentially meet in the semifinals but neither car race Smith before the final round.

Sunday’s schedule also features the final day of competition in the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod series, the Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley Series, and the SAMTech.edu Factory Stock Showdown as well as a full compliment of Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series sportsman racing.

You can catch the action all weekend on Fox Sports 1 and NHRA.tv.

Whether you’re in Pomona, Indianapolis, or anywhere else around the world, you can follow NHRA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get a closer look at the action.

Need more? Check out some of the links below to get connected to everything NHRA Drag Racing.

Live Timing | Standings

TELEVISION SCHEDULE:

Sunday, November 1, FS1 will televise qualifying coverage from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, November 1, FS1 will televise final eliminations coverage from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (ET)